Tulum, once a walled Mayan city and now the haven for travelers, is touted as Cancun’s bohemian counterpart. This quiet town features an alluring downtown area that has retained its Mexican charm while catering to everyone from budget travelers to those who desire luxurious glamour. But one may ask: Is this picturesque paradise expensive?
For backpackers trying to experience Mexico on a tight budget, Tulum may seem like an impossible dream. But don’t worry – the stunning Mayan mecca doesn’t have to be off-limits! Despite being known as an expensive destination, there are plenty of ways for you to explore this destination without breaking the bank. Let us show you how!
If you’re searching for an affordable vacation to Tulum in 2023, our guide has got your back. We’ll provide insights into the real costs of your trip – from food and drinks to transportation expenses – so you can design a visit that won’t break the bank. By knowing where to stay, it is possible to enjoy this destination without going beyond your budget!
Average Tulum Vacation Cost
Mexico may be a great destination for travelers on a budget, but Tulum is not one of those places. Known for its sought-after shoreline and extravagant vacations, if you’re aiming to enjoy the beach here, then it would be wise to come prepared with an adequate plan and budget.
For the average traveler, a weeklong visit to Tulum can come with an approximate price tag of $1,900; yet couples usually wind up paying around $3,400 and families of four an estimated $6,250. However these figures are not set in stone — hotel prices range from a low of $55 per night to as high as $495 for accommodations while vacation rentals span anywhere between the moderate sum of only $110 all the way up to a steep cost of no less than 1,300 nightly.
Cheap Meal In Restaurant
Beach Club Entry
If you’re looking to enjoy all that Tulum has to offer, but would like to avoid a major hit on your budget in the process, then look no further! Beach clubs are indeed part of what makes this destination so attractive; however, prices for food and beverages tend to be higher than those found throughout Western Europe. Although many costs here have been tailored toward tourists rather than reflect Mexico’s typical living expenses – there is still an opportunity for savings if you know where to search. Don’t miss out on experiencing the best parts of Tulum without breaking the bank by finding clever ways to cut corners!
Is Tulum Expensive?
Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula has become a popular destination for foreign tourists due to its easy accessibility from North America. For example, Cancun International Airport, the closest airport to Tulum, is only four hours away by plane from northeast cities like Boston and New York City; it takes even less than two-to-three hours if you’re flying in from Miami, Dallas or Atlanta!
Tulum is an economical option for U.S. citizens when it comes to airfare, offering drastically lower prices than those of Europe and Southeast Asia. The cost of a return flight from New York averages at only $400, Toronto’s flights are under $300 on average, and the most inexpensive tickets can be found in Miami with just $200. Mexico’s Caribbean coast offers a stunningly enjoyable retreat that won’t break the bank – making it perfect for Americans looking to unwind!
While Cancun is closer to European countries than other Mexican cities such as Mexico City, Los Cabos, and Oaxaca, the flight prices can still be expensive. Costs of travel typically start at $750 for a return ticket from London; going up to $800 if you’re flying out of Munich or even higher with an average price tag of $1,000 when departing Paris. Flight times may range anywhere between 8-12 hours depending on your departure city and any stops during transit. So make sure that budgeting for airfare is factored in beforehand!
Seeking cheaper flights to Tulum? Look for routes with multiple stops; however, no matter which direction you come from, the ticket prices are still pretty steep. From Southeast Asia it’ll cost around $1,500 and even more (up to $2,500) if your trip originates in Sydney on Australia’s east coast.
Getting to Tulum from Cancun Airport
Despite this, getting to Tulum is not as simple as booking a flight. Its remote location from an international airport makes it difficult for travelers who are unfamiliar with the area. Cancun’s most bustling transport hub may be the closest option, but that still means two hours by car and potentially three or more when considering traffic congestion and accidents on highway 307.
While this journey can be inconvenient, it also makes Tulum quite pricey. If you are on a budget and still want to get there, your most cost-effective option is taking the ADO airport bus for only $15 USD ($300 MXN) per way. Although the trip takes two hours and 45 minutes with just one stop in Tulum Centro, beware that if you aren’t staying close by, getting further transport will double up what was already paid for the bus ticket itself!
If you’re based in the bustling hotel zone east of Tulum Pueblo, where most high-end and vibrant resorts are situated, your best option is to reserve a shuttle. Navigate to Viator for a range of dependable companies from which to select; however, it can cost approximately $30 USD per person for this journey that may last more than three hours due to each shuttle’s multiple stops.
Before departing for your journey, make sure to research airport transfer companies from Cancun that will travel as far as Tulum. If you decide on a private taxi, we suggest confirming the reservation prior to arriving at your destination in order to avoid any scams or confusion upon arrival. Although this may cost more than other forms of transportation (around $80 – $120 USD each way), it is worth considering if you are looking for an efficient and secure method of travel.
Is Tulum Expensive to get around?
Tulum’s remote location causes issues with airport transportation, making it tough to come and go. But getting around Tulum can be equally tricky for those used to backpacking in Southeast Asia or Central/South America. A frequent criticism of Tulum is its confusing layout; whatever you plan on doing there, your wallet will take a hit.
Tulum is known for its powdery white sands, and turquoise seas that make it appear like a paradise. Its beaches are something to behold – they have been preserved with care! But there’s more to Tulum than just the beach: five kilometers away lies Tulum Pueblo – the center of activity when it comes to transportation and amenities. It takes longer than an hour on foot from here but trust us, this town will not disappoint you in any way!
A drive to the beach from various towns and ex-pat hotspots such as La Valeta and Aldea Zama usually takes 12-15 minutes, but unfortunately, taxis can be expensive. You may struggle to find a driver for less than $300 MXN ($15 USD). Even with the seclusion of these beach areas, you will still need to pay more in order to get back into town–approximately between $400-$600 MXN ($20-30 USD), which is higher than what an Uber would cost for that same distance in London!
Entering the Hotel Zone is an entirely different story. Prepare to spend at least $400 MXN ($20 USD) and up to a maximum of $900 MXN ($40 USD), based on when you depart. Fortunately, if you’re looking for more economical means of traveling here, there’s always the local Collectivo bus that will take you from Tulum Centro all the way to its public beach with only a one-way fare costing $70 MXN ($3.50). And as they say: when in Rome! So why not explore this paradise by renting out a bicycle? It’s definitely our favorite option for budget travelers!
Tulum may not be the most organized city, but it surely compensates with its abundance of cycling routes. In comparison to other tourist hot spots like Bali, this Mexican paradise is highly bike-friendly and offers a plethora of specialized paths that connect downtown areas as well as ex-pat communities to the main beachfront. Since exploring on two wheels can offer great freedom at a much more economical price than taxis – averaging around $100 MXN ($5 USD) per day – many travelers opt for renting bicycles when roaming through Tulum’s streets!
However, a bike isn’t practical for getting around at night, especially if drinking is involved. Since most of the big beach clubs are located in the hotel zone and walking isn’t especially safe at night in Tulum, you’ll be limited to forking out fortunes on taxis.
Renting a car in Cancun Airport to drive to Tulum.
Securing your rental car ahead of time is the best way to get a thrilling deal – prices vary depending on the season, but you can snag one for as low as $90 without insurance! Waiting until last minute will result in much higher rates, such as up to $500-600 if you book only a day before. We’ve seen people be charged an unbelievable amount at their destination: almost $1500 once!
If you plan to travel in Mexico, stay away from Hertz and National. Unfortunately, they are known for scamming tourists by failing to include third-party liability insurance in their rental price and then requesting that customers pay two or three times more than the estimated cost without giving them a choice not to purchase this insurance.
I recommend renting through Rentalcars.com or Expedia as both sites offer full insurance at a very affordable price.
For those who wish to take full advantage of their trip in Tulum, we highly recommend that you rent a vehicle. Not only will it help save you on costly taxi fees going back and forth from the airport, but with prices starting at around $170 for the week for cars and $75 for mopeds, renting is also surprisingly affordable! Just make sure to have an international license when signing up.
Accommodation prices in Tulum
Staying in a hostel or apartment is the most affordable option for lodging during your stay in Tulum. An apartment rental will be much more economical and comfortable over a longer period of time. You can find an elegant pad close to downtown (a mere 30-45 minute bike ride away from the beach) that costs approximately $350-$400 per week, which is incredibly reasonable if you share it with someone else! Tulum is synonymous with luxury and opulence, but these attributes don’t come for free. It might be compared to Bali in terms of beauty, however the prices you’ll find here are on another level entirely from what one could expect in Southeast Asia or even Europe. If a beach view and prime location is your goal then prepare to pay a premium!
Don’t be intimidated by the expensive beachfront resorts and bungalows along Tulum’s coast; you can still enjoy this paradise on a budget! Hotels, clubs, and facilities in the area offer big discounts or even free admission if you visit during off-season months (June through November). Make your stay in Tulum Pueblo to save money. Then take short trips over to the beach when desired for a fraction of what it would cost otherwise.
When visiting Tulum, you can pay anywhere from a modest $10 to an extravagant $400 per night depending on your budget and preferences. For cost-conscious travelers looking for bargain prices, hostel beds in the Centro area typically start at just $10 nightly (with rates averaging around $30 during high season). Experience all that Tulum has to offer without breaking the bank!
As a compromise, Tulum also has an emerging expat and digital nomad community. For those who want to experience the city but not stay in a hostel or hotel zone life, La Veleta and Aldea Zama are perfect options located between downtown and the beach. These areas provide homestays as well as Airbnb apartments and condominiums that can be rented either long-term or short-term.
Vacation rentals in La Veleta and Aldea Zama range from a reasonably priced $30 to an expensive $500 per night, with the average cost amounting to approximately $215. Furthermore, if you decide on one of these accommodations for your group, you could save significantly given most come equipped with kitchens and additional sleeping spaces depending on how large your party is. During low season however, prices tend to dip down around the average of only $150 per night!
No matter your budget, there is a plethora of places to stay in Tulum.m
For those of you with a higher budget, there are many luxurious hotels to select from – whether that be the trendy millennial options located in La Veleta and Tulum Centro.
Is Tulum expensive for food and drink?
Grub and drinks can also pile up in Tulum, particularly at the resort zone and its beach clubs. A meal for two people at a mid-level cafe located downtown could cost roughly $700 MXN ($35), whereas on the shoreline you’d be shelling out an estimated $4,000 MXN ($200 USD). And that’s not even counting all of those refreshments!
If you’re craving a dish of pasta at Bagatelle or Mia, be prepared to pay around $600-800 MXN ($30-40 USD). Even Mexican food isn’t cheap in the hotel zone – tacos and guacamole are about $400 MXN ($20) for example at Gitano and Papaya Playa. Drinks don’t come much cheaper either with cocktails costing no less than $350 MXN ($17.50 USD) from any beach clubs, while bottles of wine could cost an extraordinary amount of up to $2,000 MXN (~$100)!
If you want to party on the beach, it is tough to get away from these costs. Your most reliable option would be taking advantage of a complimentary drink that generally comes with your entry fee and then just sticking to water afterward (though even this will cost $5 USD). Additionally, tipping at Tulum’s beaches is almost unavoidable – servers usually provide three gratuity options on bills: 10%, 15% or 20%. They often circle the 20 percent line or add it without asking for permission before you select how you’re going to pay.
Don’t be fooled: while a bill may suggest that 10 percent is mandatory, it’s not. You shouldn’t feel any remorse over tipping what you can comfortably afford to give. Good news – just because some establishments have adopted an Ibiza-style of requiring service charges doesn’t mean that Tulum should be crossed off your list!
The distinction between the hotel region and town is most notable when it comes to food. By contrasting prices, partying in Pueblo can become quite desirable. If you prefer a nice meal in town, it would cost around $300-500 MXN ($15 – 25 USD) per person; however, if you go local instead, regional dishes are offered for only $100 MXN ($5 USD). These meals of excellent quality can be found at humble diners and taquerias throughout the area!
If you haven’t ventured to the marvelous city of Tulum, then you’re really missing out! Yet more importantly, if you’ve never savored your fair share of tantalizing street tacos there – then let me assure you that it’s an absolute must-do. Starting as low as 10 pesos per taco and served up hot by countless stands all throughout town – these al pastor delights are a late night snack favorite amongst merry tourists.
Downtown Tulum offers dangerously low-priced alcohol, where you can savor a cocktail at Batey’s Mojito Bar for just $150 MXN ($7.50 USD) and rooftop clubs serving mixed drinks at $120 MXN ($6).
Plus, the areac’s hostels have happy hour deals such as 2 cocktails for only $100 MXN ($5), with free drinking hours even available to men if they obey the staff rules and wear appropriate attire! In this way, everyone will find something that fits their holiday style in Tulum: from luxurious indulgences to pocket-friendly bargains.
Are beaches in Tulum free?
If you are visiting Tulum and don’t have the luxury of staying in a beachfront hotel in Zona Hotelera, your only two options would be to visit one of the public beaches or pay for access to a beach club. While all beaches in Tulum are free by law, unfortunately they won’t offer sunbeds or umbrellas unless you opt into using a beach club. What’s more, many lovely beaches located within Zona Hotelera can be difficult to reach as most areas are blocked off from visitors due to them being owned by hotels; though there may be ways around it, these paths usually lead far away from where you need/want to go.
Or, you can travel to Playa Paraiso and experience a beautiful beach day. Bring along some loungers and sunscreen that’s both powerful yet friendly to the reef ecosystems there.
How expensive are beach clubs in Tulum
Now you may be wondering how much it will cost to stay at a beach club in Tulum. If comfort and style are what you seek, fear not! There are plenty of options available for the discerning traveler. The great news is that many clubs offer food credits equal to your entry fee – so why not make some delicious lunch out of it? However, for those looking for more luxurious experiences, there exist exceptional venues such as Papaya Playa Project, Nomade or Casa Malca which can set you back over $100 per person depending on special events taking place throughout the year.
Tour prices and attractions in Tulum
Lastly, be sure to budget for attractions and tours in Tulum if you’re visiting. For instance, entrance into the archaeological site costs approximately $7 per individual while each cenote (such as Cenote Azul) has an entry fee of around $10. Furthermore, exhilarating adventures like trips to Sian Ka’an Biosphere will cost between $100-150 per person.
How much money do I need in Tulum?
You will need a minimum of 600-700 USD in Tulum per person for a week, if you want to visit cenotes, take tours, dine out occasionally and do some shopping. This amount of money will allow you to stay in a hostel or budget hotel, so if you want to enjoy a more luxurious accommodation, you will need to spend more money.
Tulum on a budget
Are you looking to explore the beauty of Tulum without breaking your budget? Then, plan ahead! Allocate a minimum of $80 USD per day for accommodations, food and other transportation expenses when planning each person’s trip. Don’t forget that if you want to take guided tours or indulge in fine dining experiences, it is best to set aside extra funds as well. While Downtown Tulum offers plenty of low-cost hotels and hostels, don’t forget they fill up quickly during peak travel times – so book those stays early!
Tulum on mid-budget
For those who have a bit of extra money, traveling to Tulum will cost around $120-150 USD per day. This fee goes towards accommodation, cycling/scooter rental and meals. Additionally, you can explore the nearby cenotes at no additional charge; however, if you’re looking for a guided tour through them then prepare to spend more.
Tulum on a luxury budget
If you’re a luxury traveler, Tulum is your oyster! Not only can you stay in some of the most luxurious hotels, but also feast on delicious food and enjoy guided tours. For an even better experience of learning about the area’s culture, why not rent a car? You will be able to explore nearby destinations at whatever speed or time suits you best – all while having complete freedom and flexibility with your journey.
Best time to visit Tulum?
Mexico is blessed with a marvelous tropical climate, and its Caribean coast offers some of the best weather. During your visit to Tulum, you will experience two distinct seasons: wet and dry. The former is formally known as hurricane season; it runs from June through October with an abundance of rain in August and September.
During the mid-summer season, you can find incredible hotel and flight deals, plus some beach clubs reduce their admission charges if they’re open. However, there’s a high probability of tropical storms making an appearance during your vacation; this means windy weather with more debris on beaches while oceans become choppier too.
Tulum experiences its most popular tourist season between December and May, when the weather is typically ideal for a Mexican getaway. During this time of year, visitors can expect clear skies, pleasant days with temperatures in the 80s, and cooler nights that are not as humid as during the rainy season. While downpours may occur on occasion, they tend to be less frequent than other times of year.
Although this can be the priciest time to visit Tulum, with elevated costs for hotels, beach clubs and restaurants alike – you don’t need to pay a fortune! To take advantage of better bargains and avoid summer storms, we highly advise visiting in either May/June or late October through November which we think is also the best time to visit Tulum. During these periods there will not only be more sunshine but also fewer visitors, as well as lower hotel rates.
What’s the cheapest time to visit Tulum?
If you’re looking to visit Tulum on a budget, the best time is during the low season of June through September. You’ll find more affordable hotels, tours and car rentals during this period; though there’s typically more rain than expected. Alternatively, shoulder seasons (October-November and May) offer better weather with prices still being lower than those in high season.
Tulum on a Budget Tips
Stay in Tulum Pueblo (downtown) – Exploring downtown is an inexpensive way to get a taste of the city’s best while saving money. Consider bypassing the more expensive hotel zone and opt for an area closer to the beach when looking to soak up some sun or let your hair down. Cooking at home, taking advantage of local transportation options such as buses or Uber, and staying in cheaper accommodation can make all the difference in keeping costs low overall.
Pay in pesos – As you explore Tulum and visit the restaurants or shops, you may find that some of them accept U.S. dollars. However, if you want to get better exchange rates for your money, it’s best to withdraw Mexican pesos from any nearby HSBC ATMs!
Party in the hostels – While beach clubs may set you back a pretty penny, downtown offers far more bang for your buck. Whether an upbeat atmosphere with good music and vibes is what you seek or an all-out raucous night out, the hotel zone can certainly provide both!
Rent a car – By possessing an international license, you will be able to enjoy significant savings on transportation costs by renting a vehicle instead of taking taxis – particularly for airport transfers.
Visit in the low season – When December 1 arrives, prices spike drastically for both lodging and entrance fees. However, November and the spring off-season bring similar weather conditions with significantly more affordable rates – making them ideal times to travel!
Take the ADO bus or shuttle from the airport – Don’t be fooled by airport taxis! If you’re not renting a car, book an economical shuttle to your hotel. Alternatively, if downtown is where you’ll stay during the duration of your trip, take the much more affordable ADO bus instead — it’s only one tenth the price compared to hailing a taxi.
Eat street food – When trying to save a few pesos, local food is the obvious choice. However, street tacos are in a class of their own, with some stalls charging only 10 Pesos each for these tasty treats!
Is Cancun or Tulum more expensive?
Tulum is a more exclusive destination than Cancun, with prices for food and accommodations being the main differences. Unlike Cancun, there are no large resorts or shopping malls. Instead, you will find breathtaking beaches, stunning cenotes and Mayan ruins set against the lush backdrop of the Caribbean Sea. Come to Tulum to experience its unique beauty!
Is Tulum safe?
Although Tulum is generally safe to visit, it is not completely risk-free. Over the past decade, Tulum has experienced a surge in population and drug trafficking activity. To ensure your safety while exploring the city, take caution when engaging with strangers; do not accept food or drinks from unfamiliar people and remember that if something sounds too good to be true – it likely isn’t!
What currency should I bring to Tulum?
When visiting Tulum, it’s wise to be prepared with Mexican Pesos as U.S. dollars are often accepted however not always preferred in shops and restaurants. Having the optimal currency will ensure you have a hassle-free vacation experience!
Is tipping expected in Tulum?
Tipping is a customary practice throughout Mexico, including in the city of Tulum. Whether you are availing yourself to guided tours, dining at local eateries or enjoying a spa day—tipping should be thoughtfully included and appreciated regardless if your visit involves staying Downtown or within the beach area. Unless specified otherwise on your final bill, kindly remember to leave 10-15 percent as gratuity for services received.
The idyllic Mayan town of Tulum is renowned for being one of Mexico’s priciest hot spots, and it doesn’t disappoint. This small bohemian paradise has been drawing in holistic vacationers over the years and now offers a vibrant beach club atmosphere that rivals even Ibiza with its celebrated D.J.s and exorbitant costs.
Spending a fortune on Tulum’s beachfront hotels is not the only way to experience this vibrant destination. You can find plenty of budget-friendly options in downtown Tulum, with delicious and inexpensive food and drinks that backpackers will especially love. To be sure, it isn’t as cheap as other Central American cities – but if you avoid staying near the oceanfront area, there are still lots of ways for savvy travelers to enjoy all that Tulum has to offer without breaking the bank.
Traveling to 🇲🇽 Mexico soon?
I recommend these travel resources for Mexico that I personally use:
🏨 Hotels: I have found that Expedia and Booking.com consistently have the best deals on hotels and resorts in Mexico. If you prefer to stay at a vacation rental, check VRBO that is usually cheaper than AirBnB’s added fees!
✈️ Flights: To find the best flight deals to Mexico, I always use Kayak. Remember to subscribe to their price alerts for the travel dates you want. Another great alternative for flight deals is Expedia.
🚗 Rental Cars: I always use and highly recommend Discover Cars because it allows me to compare several car rental companies and view ratings on various factors such as overall value, pick-up procedure, agent efficiency, car condition, and total time taken.
🚙 CancunAirport Transportation: For the fastest and easiest way to travel, I suggest arranging a private transfer with Cancun Airport Transportation. Honestly, no better way to travel from the airport to your hotel or resort.
🤿 Tours & Activities: For tours and activities in Mexico, I highly recommend using either Viator or GetYourGuide. These websites offer a full refund if you cancel your booking 24 hours before the start of the tour, and they also provide excellent customer service in case of any issues.
🚨 Travel Insurance: I always suggest purchasing travel insurance as a precaution before traveling, especially after a recent accident in a taxi in Mexico. For short trips, I recommend Travel Insurance Master, whereas for digital nomads, Safety Wing is a better option.
📷 Best Camera for your trip: I always carry with me a GoPro, It’s light, compact, takes great video and pictures, and most importantly, it’s waterproof! You just can’t go wrong with one. If you are interested in higher quality video and photography, I always carry with me on my trips and highly recommend the Sony A7IV which I think is the best travel DSLR Camera out there.
☀️ Biodegradable Sunscreen: Remember to include a good sunscreen to protect yourself from the summer sun. I always use and suggest Sun Bum Sunscreen, which is vegan, reef-friendly, and cruelty-free.
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